Gattone isn’t enough for Haverford in loss to Lower Merion

HAVERFORD >> On one shift in the second period, Haverford defenseman Dante Gattone rushed up the right side into the offensive zone, backchecked to prevent a two-on-one then stepped into the slot to block a shot. He does everything for the Fords, and they need him to. This a young a team still finding its stride.

Thursday night against Lower Merion, Haverford “took a step back,” in head coach John Povey’s words, in a 4-2 defeat. The loss comes just six days after the Fords upended the Aces, 4-3.

Haverford defenseman Dante Gattone skates the puck up the ice against Lower Merion Thursday night. The senior captain has led the Fords all season, including a 4-2 Central League setback against the Aces. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“We played a good game on Friday,” said Gattone. “We gave it all we had. Tonight, they raised the bar. They played outstanding, and we came up short.”

The Fords had their chance to tie things late. Gattone drew two penalties on one shift to set up a five-on-three power play with less than five minutes to go. Down one goal, Haverford failed to generate a scoring chance.

“You got to score there,” said Povey. “We’re trying to set up Dante for a one-timer there. The five-on-three sums up our game. You get an opportunity, you have to score.”

Povey’s words hint at the challenges posed by relying so heavily on one defensemen.

“We’re counting on him offensively; he’s our biggest piece,” Povey said. “And defensively, he’s our biggest piece. But you can only count on him for so much.”

It showed as Gattone labored towards the end. He was admittedly gassed on the two-man advantage, and yet he was still the one looking for the puck. In turn, his teammates were looking to find him.

“We were just all tired,” said Gattone. “They were working real hard. We couldn’t keep up. They were doing everything they could to win the game.”

Will Ebby sealed things with an empty-netter with 1:04 to play. His goal capped a night where the Aces dominated start to finish.

PHOTO GALLERY: Haverford vs. Lower Merion

David Wilf opened the scoring 3:32 with a backhander, before Gattone answered in fashion. He showed all his ability, evading an opponent on the offensive blue line, drawing a defender to the puck, then sliding a pass to Daniel Quartapella for a tap in. That came on the power play, as did the Fords’ second goal, Alex Gattone the scorer. But 2-2 — Alex Broder added a second for Lower Merion — was as close as Haverford would get.

The Aces (9-3-1, 7-3-1 Central) outshot the Fords, 13-7, in the first period and 14-5 in the second. On a night where most all of his teammates were off, Tyler Cassidy was very much on in the Haverford goal.

Haverford’s Daniel Quartapella challenges Lower Merion’s Jadon Hoffman. Quartapella scored, but Lower Merion claimed a 4-2 win Thursday night. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“If it wasn’t for Tyler, we would not have been in the game,” said Povey. “We were lucky to be in the game. He was by far our best player tonight.”

Cassidy’s best stop of the evening came when he slid to his left to deny Anthony LePera at the doorstep. But he couldn’t keep everything out. Shane Leonard broke the tie with 1:11 remaining in the second period.

Haverford pressed in the final frame, holding a 12-6 advantage in shots. Freshman Alex Gattone, Dante’s younger brother, had the two best chances, only to be stopped twice from the bottom of the circle.

The defeat stops the Fords’ (8-5-0-2, 8-2-0-2 Central) best streak of the season. They had surged to the top of the Central League North Division, albeit with two games in hand on second-place Conestoga. They’ve gotten plenty from the freshmen and more from Dante Gattone, their top scorer with 15 goals and 18 assists. But they need all hands on deck to compete for a league title.

“We’ve got a young team,” said Dante. “Everyone is playing well. I guess coach trusts me more. We’ve got to incorporate everybody, though.”

In nonleague action:

Interboro 10, Marple Newtown 5 >> In the personal battle between them, Stephen Schwartz got the better of Ian Malarick.

Schwartz had a hand in all 10 goals by the Bucs with seven markers and three assists. Jake Reifer added two goals and three helpers, and Nicholas Falcone and Konnor Oreskovich tallied two helpers apiece.

Malarick tried to keep pace by scoring all five of Marple’s goals. Max DiCola helped him out with two assists.

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